GardenersHQ

How to Grow Annual Lathyrus Plants

Article by Dean Ravenscroft, Ph.D.

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Annual Lathyrus

The Lathyrus genus contains both annuals and perennials. This section of Gardener's HQ is dedicated to the annual. See this page of the site for information on how to grow perennial Lathyrus varieties.

These climbing plants can reach from 60 cm to 3 m (2 to 10 feet) in height, and carry fragrant butterfly like flowers in many shades.

The flowering time of Annual Lathyrus is species dependent, and it can be from spring to autumn.

Lathyrus tingitanus
Lathyrus tingitanus pink by peganum.

Some of the latin names include Lathyrus tingitanus, Lathyrus latifolius, Lathyrus sativus, Lathyrus odoratus, Lathyrus nervosus, and Lathyrus linifolius.

Annual Lathyrus can be grown on a trellis or fence at the back of a garden border, or allowed to grow along the ground.

How to Grow Annual Lathyrus

The seeds of Annual Lathyrus should be sown outdoors at a depth of 12 mm (1/2 inch) in early spring.

They like to grow in a sunny part of the garden that has a deeply composted (40 cm; 16 inches) soil. The soil should also have bone meal added to it.

If starting off indoors, then the process should start about two months before the last frost of spring is expected.

First chip the seeds then imbibe them in warm water for a day. They will require to be inoculated with nitrogen fixing bacteria (available from a garden centre).

The seeds should then take two or three weeks to germinate at 12 to 18 degrees centigrade (54 to 64°F).

Once growing, the annual Lathyrus plants should be transplanted outdoors following the last frost of spring.

Annual Lathyrus vines should be spaced at about 15 cm (6 inches) apart, and bush's spaced about 30 cm (12 inches) apart.

Caring for Annual Lathyrus

Annual Lathyrus require a trellis or fence to grow upon, or alternatively allowed to trail on the ground.

Either way, they should be mulched and watered in the summer (and during other prolonged dry periods).

Removing dead flowers will result in prolonged blooming.

Unfortunately Annual Lathyrus is susceptible to disease, so it is necessary to change the location of where you plant Annual Lathyrus each year.

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Common Questions

How many annual members does the Lathyrus genus contain?

The Lathyrus genus contains both annual and perennial species. Of these, a popular annual is Lathyrus odoratus, the sweet pea. Unfortunately, the exact number of annual species is not easily determined.

Do annual members of Lathyrus make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Yes, annual Lathyrus species, such as sweet peas, are beloved for their attractive, fragrant flowers and are a popular choice for gardens and landscaping.

Which Lathyrus species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

Among the annuals, Lathyrus odoratus (Sweet Pea) is the most frequently grown by gardeners, prized for its fragrant, colorful blossoms.

Are annual members of the Lathyrus plant genus fragrant?

Yes, many annual Lathyrus species are fragrant, and are beloved for its sweet, delicate scent.

What is the perfect location to grow annual Lathyrus?

Annual Lathyrus plants prefer full sun to light shade and well-drained soil. They are often grown on trellises, as they are climbing plants.

Is annual Lathyrus invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

Presently, annual Lathyrus species are not thought to be invasive in the USA.

How do I remove annual Lathyrus plants from my garden?

Annual Lathyrus plants, like Sweet Peas, usually die off after one season. To remove, simply pull out the plant, ensuring all roots are extracted to prevent reseeding.

Summary

The Lathyrus genus is part of the larger Fabaceae family, commonly referred to as the pea family. Annual members of this genus are typically known for their showy, butterfly-like flowers and are often grown for their ornamental appeal. Examples of annual species include the sweet pea (Lathyrus odoratus) and the cupid's dart (Lathyrus chloranthus).

These plants thrive in full sun to partial shade and prefer well-drained soil enriched with organic matter. Plant seeds in early spring, once the danger of frost has passed. Regular watering is essential, but avoid waterlogged conditions as these can lead to root rot. Throughout the growing season, these annual peas will produce vibrant blooms that not only enhance the beauty of your garden but also attract pollinators, contributing to a healthy ecosystem.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Annual Lathyrus plants. You may also enjoy my gardening guides on how to grow Ficus benjamina, Washingtonia robusta, and Ixora plants.

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